“In that moment, she genuinely appreciated the peace and tranquility she had created in this space.”

Recap of Chapter 10: 

With the help of Sydney and her friends, Haze decides on the online candidate to be her first date: Jake. His profile hits all the marks. So, she goes to the salon—finally—slips on a sundress and heads out to meet him at Maya’s Cantina, downtown. Over margaritas, they realize they are really hitting it off. But when the perfect time presents itself to lean in for a kiss, clumsiness ruins the moment and the date ends in laughter rather than romance.

Haze stretched her arms over her head and straightened her legs, pointing her toes toward the end of the bed. It was late morning and she had one of the best sleeps in a long time. She rolled over lazily to gaze out the small bedroom window at the headboard. It was a beautiful morning—flowers bloomed, their scent carrying in through the open window, and the sun sparkled off the slice of lake she could see from the bedroom. This was one of those rare days when Haze’s bed was so comfortable, it seemed like a cruelty to leave it. Good thing there was no real hurry. She didn’t have any place to be until 4:30, when she agreed to meet Jake at the shelter where he volunteered. Haze smiled at the thought of Jake. What an unexpected surprise to meet someone so great! He was funny and kind and a talented carpenter and gardener. He even made whimsical lawn art—the kind that moves in the wind in surprising ways. Like Haze, he created his pieces from mostly reclaimed materials. They’d been casually seeing each other for a couple months and it had been really wonderful and surprising in every way.

She sighed and threw off the covers. She slipped on the colorful caftan hanging from the bedpost to throw over the tank top and sleep shorts she wore to bed and, twisting her hair into a sloppy bun, headed for the kitchen. She loaded the grinder with fresh beans from the Muddy Buck and pressed the button. Inhaling, she took in the wonderful aroma of freshly ground coffee. She turned on the kettle and took the press out of the dishwasher. Her phone buzzed. It was Jake. “I want you to meet someone,” the text read. Smiling, she typed, “Good morning! You want me to meet someone? How intriguing!” She poured the boiling water into the press. “Any hints?” she asked. She got a cup from the cupboard and cream from the fridge. “Not even one,” he teased. “See you at 4:30.” She finished preparing the coffee, poured a cup and sauntered into the studio.


She curled up in the window seat, cradling the cup of delicious coffee and gazed out the window. In that moment, she genuinely appreciated the peace and tranquility she had created in this space. There wasn’t a thing in her view inside or out that she didn’t love. Her cup of brushes on the table, the empty easel, the way the canvases lay stacked in the rack in the corner. She loved this room. This room and her bedroom were her favorite spaces. She caught a glimpse of Sydney driving past in her convertible, throwing a wave in her direction. She smiled. The word contentment flashed in her thoughts.

The day went by remarkably fast, as days with no direction often do. There’s an art form to puttering in a familiar space without real purpose. The quiet was so peaceful. It took about 40 minutes to drive down to Golden, so she set off a few minutes before 4:00. When she pulled up to the animal shelter, she spied Jake outside talking with a visitor. He had this adorable way of making divots in the gravel with the toe of his shoe. The visitor laughed and then patted Jake’s shoulder as he left. Jake’s back was to her and it looked like he was holding something. Haze got out of the car. When he turned, she saw that he was holding a puppy. It was fat and wriggly. He talked to the puppy, his hands cradling him lovingly, and it licked his chin. Jake and a puppy—what a winning combination! He caught sight of her and headed her direction.

“Who is this?” Haze said in that voice we humans reserve for puppies and small children. She reached out to rub his ears and neck. “Oh, my goodness! He’s really something!” she cooed.

“This little guy is brand new here, “Jake said, shifting his weight to the other arm. “So, he doesn’t have a name yet.”

The puppy stretched to lick Haze’s chin. “Ahh, what a cutie!” she said, giggling.

He leaned forward to kiss her lightly. “This is who I wanted you to meet,” Jake said. “You see, he needs a name and I thought you could help me with that.”

Haze was holding the puppy’s front paws. “Is that right?”

“He also needs a home,” Jake said looking directly at her. “So, I thought… here’s you, living in a house… all alone with a backyard?”

Haze looked at him. “Me? You want me to adopt this little guy?”

He smiled at her. “It’s a thought.” He watched her lose her hands in his fur and kiss his nose. “A pretty good one, I’d say.” He dipped his chin into the puppy’s fur and looked up at her pleadingly.

“Wow!” she remarked. “You’re really pulling out all the stops, aren’t you?”

The puppy squirmed and Jake put him on the ground, where he plunged his nose into a pile of bark.

“Seriously, Haze. Why not bring this guy into your life? He’d keep you company and protect you at night.”

“Oh yeah, he looks like a regular guard dog,” she giggled, as the puppy lost his balance on a little hill and rolled over onto his back. “What kind is he?”

“Well, like I said, he’s brand new here and we don’t know much, but the best guesses are that he’s part Golden Retriever—that’s because of his fur and snout, but if you can get him to look at you, you’ll see his eyes are two different colors. Those are more Australian Shepherd or Husky traits.”

Haze stuck her hip out and crossed her arms. “How big will he get?”

“My guess is that he’ll top out at around 50 pounds, so not too big.” He crouched down and the puppy galloped over with a floppy gait, putting his front paws up on Jake’s knees.

“He seems to like you best,” Haze said.

“I like him too. That’s why I thought of him for you. You work from home, so you’d have the time to train him and bond with him. I’m heading into my busy season and I won’t have the time to take care of him.” He wrestled the puppy onto his back and tickled his belly. “This guy deserves a good home with a wonderful person. So, I thought of you.”

Haze sat on the grass next to Jake. He put his arm around her. “Well? What do you think?” he asked, giving her a nudge.

She thought of her peaceful morning in the quiet tranquility she’d created for herself in the little house by the lake. Introducing this pint-sized, yet-to-be-named, four-legged hurricane into her home would bring her peaceful atmosphere to a crashing halt. That was a lot to give up. As if by cue, the puppy crawled over Jake’s leg and curled up in her lap. He yawned a big yawn with his tongue out, then curled into a ball and went to sleep. It was a done deal.